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About Us

History

The Jerusalem Film and Television School was founded in 1989 by the Israeli Ministry of Education and Culture and the Jerusalem Foundation. In 1996, it was renamed in honor of the Academy Award-winning American Jewish producer Sam Spiegel, following his family’s decision to contribute annually to the school.

Located in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem, the school has a student body of 170. It offers three study programs:
Full Program – Training students in directing, screenwriting, cinematography, editing and production.
Screenwriting Program – Training students in writing for film and television
Entrepreneurial Producers Program – Training students for production in all media.

The school is a non-profit public organization. The chairman of its board of directors is Dov Barhav. According to school records 70% of its graduates currently work in key professions in the film and television industry.

The school was founded as a reaction to students revolts in 1988 at the Beit Zvi school, who contested the second class treatment they believed to have been the part of the film department at the school. In July 1989, Ruth Cheshin, Chair of the Jerusalem Foundation, Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem's renowned Mayor and former President Yitzhak Navon, at the time Minister of Education, have asked film director Renen Schorr to draw up plans for the school, which opened in Jerusalem in November 1989.

Unlike other existing films schools in Israel, the Sam Spiegel School worked to classify the short film as a genre, identifying itself as a “story-telling school” and placed central importance on the hero in the story and the narrative. Similarly, the school stressed the focus of a director’s work, paraphrasing the words of Hitchcock: “The job of a director is not just to work with the screenwriter, the actors, the cameraman, the editor and the composer, but to direct the audience.” The school was bound to transform the work of a director into an act of sensitivity, directed at reaching and stirring the viewer.

In 1992/3, the school presented itself to the public for the first time, participating in the Jerusalem Film Festival and a series of Graduate Film Showings in various cinemateques, presenting thirty of its films – debut films and final projects of the first graduating class.

The public, the Israeli film community and the media were surprised by the uncommon style of the school’s films, and praised the school and its films (in the Israel Film Institute Competition for Short Films, the school’s films received 12 out of 13 awards). 

In July 1993, the school films were screened at the Jerusalem International Film Festival. The panel of jurors, including director of the London Film Festival Sheila Whitaker, director Dusan Makavejev, critic David Robinson, actor Haim Topol, and British producer Mark Shivas, were effusive in praise, stating that all of the school’s entries in the competition were universal in their language and boasted excellent international potential.

In November, 1996, a milestone was reached when the Museum of Modern Art in New York presented the school’s first major retrospective. At the opening night ceremony, which was attended by Teddy Kollek, the Spiegel family, graduates of the school, an array of film producers and members of the New York film industry, the school’s name was officially changed from the Jerusalem Film and Television School to the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School, Jerusalem.

Speaking at the event, MoMA Chief Curator Larry Kardish said of the school’s films, “Although each is substantially different from the other, they all seem to share some significant and impressive characteristics. Whether fiction or documentary, narrative or experimental, they are all fresh, quirky, surprising and pithy. That they were well-made is to be expected, but that they also appeared to be effortlessly realized, naturally based in social realities, and psychologically sophisticated is out of the ordinary... The Sam Spiegel School is sending Israeli cinema in a new and exciting direction; its spirit is crossing borders, and its films are a most welcome presence invigorating the international scene.”
News
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Directing Award for "Portrait of My Family in My 13th Year" at the prestigious Poitiers Film Festival
For the second year in a row - we are on the Hollywood Reporter's list of best film schools outside the US
Glowing reviews for the flagship project "Voice Over" now in cinematheques around Israel
The first workshop of the eighth edition of the Lab kicks off this month
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